She was a nun of noble birth. He, a heretic, a reformer…an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire.
In the 16th century, nun Katharina von Bora’s fate fell no further than the Abbey. Until she read the writings of Martin Luther.
His sweeping Catholic church reformation—condemning a cloistered life and promoting the goodness of marriage—awakened her desire for everything she’d been forbidden. Including Martin Luther himself.
Despite the fact that the attraction and tension between them is undeniable, Luther holds fast to his convictions and remains isolated, refusing to risk anyone’s life but his own. And Katharina longs for love, but is strong-willed. She clings proudly to her class distinction, pining for nobility over the heart of a reformer. They couldn’t be more different.
But as the world comes tumbling down around them, and with Luther’s threatened life a constant strain, these unlikely allies forge an unexpected bond of understanding, support and love.
Together, they will alter the religious landscape forever.
Jody Hedlund turns to the early days of the Protest Reformation and looks at a relationship which probably few people know about. Martin Luther is most famous for supposedly nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a Wittenberg church. After he left the Roman Catholic Church he continued his writing, expanding on his views of Christianity, faith and the church. He encouraged the pastors who followed his teachings to marry, but was reluctant to do so himself. He reckoned without Katharina von Bora, one of the many nuns who read his teachings and escaped the convents to which they had often been sent by family at an early age.
Luther and Katharina starts with Katharina’s challenging escape from the convent where she’d spent most of her life until that point. The reader is made aware of the risks involved, including the brutal punishments the Abbot inflicts for the slightest disobedience. The descriptions of Abbott Baltazar’s actions reminded me of a vicious plantation overseer. Over the next two years, Katharina watches her fellow former nuns marry and start new lives while she struggles to find her place in the world. Her relationship with Luther is volatile but there is a connection between them. The book mostly focuses on the time before the marriage, although there are some ‘interesting’ paragraphs about their physical attraction to each other and first night together which some readers may find uncomfortable (I didn’t). I am disappointed that Hedlund didn’t go into their married life in detail, as by all accounts it was a true partnership at a time when such things were rare, but this is a minor gripe about a fascinating and insightful novel.
Thank you to WaterBrook Press for my complimentary Advance Reading Copy of Luther and Katharina, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read Luther and Katharina? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Publication Date: 06 October 2015
Page Count: 400